From carrot tops to roasted beets, there's a riot of colour waiting to be unleashed

Everyone loves pesto. Sweet with basil, nutty with pesto, crunchy with pine nut fragrant with extra virgin olive oil, it's one of the pasta worlds biggest crowd pleasers.

 

But what if you ventured beyond the standard formula? What if you put that mini mixer of yours to good use, and got a little extra creative? 

 

Some gorgeous things could happen in your kitchen. 

 

Add in recent news that our appetite for all those aforementioned pine nuts is doing bad things to the global eco system, and the case to try something new becomes even more compelling. 

 

Here's some innovative new ideas to have a crack at. 

 

1. Carrot top pesto

Now once you start 'pestoing' you might find you can't stop. Things you once threw away without a care can become pesto-making gold... we're looking at you, carrot tops and radish leaves

Report image

 

2. Broccoli pesto

Kids protesting against broccoli? Blend the cruciferous veggie with hazelnuts and they'll be eating it like it's Nutella*.

 

*Okay not quite. But they will eat it.

Report image

 

3. Fennel frond pesto

Fond of a fennel frond (the fine feathery bits of the veg)? Then whizz them up with fennel seeds and make a punchy pesto ready to liven up even the most humble tinned soup.

Report image

 

4. Courgette pesto

Courgettes. They've tried so hard to be pasta and now they've found a way into pesto. We guess they weren't happy being good-old ratatouille. 

Report image

 

5. Cavolo nero pesto

Quite a mouthful to say. Totally delicious to eat. Cabbage has never tasted so good.

Report image

 

6. Carrot pesto

Pesto doesn't have to be green. Or red. In fact, as this carrot pesto proves, it can be orange quite comfortably.

Report image

 

 

7. Kale pesto

Mix this kale pesto with scrambled eggs and serve with ham... to make real green eggs and ham in the spirit of Dr Seuss. Just don't say you don't like it.

Report image

 

8. Brussels sprout pesto

A good trick to play on any sprout-phobe. Mixed with Parmesan, olive oil and smoked garlic, they'll never guess what you've done.

Report image

 

9. Wild garlic pesto

Simple, delicious and very very green, you'll love wild garlic. It's got a softer flavour then the ordinary stuff and grows rampant all over the UK – there's probably loads in your local park actually, just waiting to be pestoed.

Report image

 

10. Beetroot pesto

It might sound super-peculiar but we promise it works. This recipe uses walnut too – just to fly a bit more in the face of tradition.

Report image

 

11. Garlic scapes

Overlooked and underused, we reckon garlic scapes are set to become the new asparagus. They are the flower stems that grow out of garlic plants and have a sharp, tangy flavour. Look out for them at farmers' markets and greengrocers, then make this pesto pronto. 

Report image
Report image

 

 

12. Flower power pesto

Would we lie to you?

 

You can use flower leaves to make pesto (well they are green and leafy after all) and nasturtium leaves are particularly good.

 

Use them to make a peppery pesto (delicious dolloped onto a cheesy pizza) and then experiment with other flower leaves too.

 

Make sure your leaves are edible(!) and chemical and pesticide free though before you use them in any culinary escapades.

Stinging nettles? Strawberry tops? Celery sticks? What's the weirdest thing you'd put in a pesto? Let us know in the comments box...